Current treaties do not oblige Russia to offer military assistance to Syria in case of intervention, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing on Friday.
This was his answer to the question whether Russia, as a legal successor of the Soviet Union, may provide military assistance to Damascus in line with the 1980 Soviet-Syrian Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, which in particular says that the U.S.S.R. will be involved should a third party invade Syria.
Lukashevich said Article 6 of the Treaty, which the question was referring to, did not stipulate the use of military force by Russia.
“Russia is not going to do anything like this,” he said, noting that the article was about “the launch of a classical mechanism of consultations.”
Article 6 reads: “In case of situations threatening peace or security of one of the sides or peace and security worldwide, the High Contracting Parties will immediately engage in contact with each other to coordinate their positions and cooperate to overcome the emerged threat and restore peace.”
Syria has been the scene of continuous anti-government protests for nearly a year. According to the United Nations, more than 7,500 people have died in the unrest. Syrian authorities say over 2,000 servicemen and law enforcers have been killed in clashes with armed opposition forces.
Russia and China have twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria that they believe could lead to a military operation against Syrian government forces, which would lead to a “Libyan scenario.”
The latest Morocco-proposed draft resolution called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and withdraw forces from cities and towns. Russia proposed amendments to the draft, but they were not adopted, which prompted Moscow to use its veto right for the second time in February, provoking an angry reaction from the West.